Malaysia’s parliament has approved a law against “fake news” that will punish anyone publishing information deemed false or untrue despite an outcry from the opposition and activists who believe it is a ploy to muzzle dissent. The lower house of Malaysia’s parliament passed the law after a debate spanning last week on Thursday afternoon and much of Monday.
The law will target foreign as well as local media and covers any information that is deemed to be “wholly or partly fake.”
An initial government proposal for sentences up to 10 years in jail for those disseminating false information was lowered to six years accompanied with a fine of 500,000 ringgit ($130,000). Publishing false reports on blogs, sharing such information on social media and giving a speech containing information known to be untrue would be a punishable offense under the new law. The opposition has fiercely criticized the law, saying it imposes heavy penalties and has the potential to limit free speech.—Agencies